There’s an interesting segment in the ProPublica’s recent interview with Elizaveta Osetinskaya about how the RBC broke a story about the mysterious deaths of Russian soldiers in the Ukraine.

I think it’s interesting because of the critical role that social media played in establishing personal connections with people who had the stories to tell. It would be interesting to know more about how journalists are using social media in this way, so if you have any pointers to resources I’d really like to see them.

Click here to jump to this part in the interview or move the time slider below to 14:00.

There was a big flow of content at that time reported by community newspapers, local newspapers, that there were cases of deaths of troops that were sent somewhere by the government, but no-one knew where they were sent. There were funerals, there were tragic situations with their families. We decided to talk to people and follow the path of those troops. Where they were told to go. Why they went there. To focus on personal stories.

Our reporter talked to many people in person and that’s how he collected personal stories of those troops. When we collected this information we asked officials in the ministry of defense and didn’t get a lot of information from them. So there was that collection from people to people. We also used Russian social network ВКонта́кте that is the biggest competitor to Facebook in Russia, where people published information that was in the open public profiles. So we took some pictures, and we talked to the people afterwards.